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The Sport

Motorcycle drag racing began in the United States during the 1950s as an offshoot of automobile drag racing. One form of drag racing takes two competitors, lines them up at a dragstrip and, once given the starting signal (typically a staging light), the riders accelerate down a 1/4-mile long two-lane, paved track where their elapsed time (ET) and terminal speed are recorded. The rider who reaches the finish line first is the winner. To ensure close competition, drag racing is divided into classes that pit evenly matched bikes against each other.

ET Racing, commonly called Bracket racing, is a second form of motorcycle drag racing that evolved in the 1960s as an alternative to increasingly expensive class racing. It allows bikes of varying performance levels to compete head-to-head. At an ET race, competitors are paired and each one selects a time that they think their motorcycle will run, called the "dial-in". The slower machine gets a head start equal to the difference in dial-in times. The strategy to winning is to predict what the motorcycle will run and not go faster. Running quicker than the dial-in is called a "break out" and results in a loss; this can occur when the rider chooses a dial-in that is too slow. Choosing a dial-in that is too quick can allow an opponent to cross the finish line first. If both racers break out, the bike that breaks out in the least amount of time wins.

The first sanctioning organization for drag racing was the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), formed by Wally Parks in 1951. Two years earlier, Parks had organized the campaign to open Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats for hot rod speed trials. He was instrumental in the start-up of Hot Rod magazine and, as the magazine's editor, used Hot Rod as a platform to promote NHRA-sanctioned events and racers. What would become the world's largest motorsports g overning body was primarily focused on automobile-based drag racing at the start. But it wasn't long before two-wheelers were competing in NHRA events as well.

One of the best known motorcycle drag racers of the early era was Russ Collins. By the mid-1960s, he was an authority on high-performance motorcycle engines. In 1969, Collins began racing Honda 750s in NHRA events and through his company, RC Engineering, designed the first four-into-one motorcycle exhaust header. Collins's continued success foreshadowed the coming dominance of Japanese-based drag bikes at a time when Triumph and Harley-Davidson ruled the sport. In the 1970s, two of Collins's employees, Terry Vance and Byron Hines, began racing and the pair enjoyed remarkable drag-racing success spanning several decades. Like RC Engineering, their company, Vance & Hines, has become a dominant force in motorcycle drag racing today.

AMA/Prostar traces its roots to a one-time "race for the championship" organized in October 1989 at Atco Raceway in New Jersey by Keith "Scooter" Kizer and Jack O'Malley, the late owner of Orient Express High Performance Motorcycle Components. Originally the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Motorcycle Division, the fledgling organization ran under the IHRA banner for only its first year before adopting the Prostar name. Kizer took over the reigns in mid-1993 and, with the blessing of the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), changed the name to AMA/Prostar to become the AMA's official drag-racing arm. The Prostar sanctioning organization was acquired by the AMA in 2002 and today operates as the AMA/Prostar Championship Series.

AMA/Prostar is the world's largest all-motorcycle drag-racing sanctioning body. Based in Huntsville, Alabama, its events attract top racers from around the globe to compete on U.S. tracks. All motorcycle brands are welcomed and they compete in a number of classes. For 2005, the organization sanctions 16 classes, from Top Fuel to Street ET, at eight event venues. Pro Street is the class in which Stotz Racing campaigns the turbocharged Honda CBR1100XX.

Kent Stotz was instrumental in helping AMA/Prostar develop the foundation and rules for the Street Bike Shootout class, the precursor to Pro Street. For street racers looking to go to the track, the new class was an obvious option because it didn't stray too far from stock production models. The AMA/Prostar rules permitted the use of turbocharging or nitrous oxide, allowed a maximum wheelbase of 68 inches, at least two inches of ground clearance, a working headlight and taillight, a fully functional charging system and DOT-approved tires. Wheelie bars could not be used. To ensure that the rules were obeyed, a random 12-mile road test was developed that had to be completed by all race bikes, after which each bike had to be shut off and restarted within one minute.

The Street Bike Shootout class rules rewarded innovative thinking and out-of-the-box engineering, skills that defined Stotz's approach to racing. To meet the challenge, Stotz pioneered the use of electronic fuel injection (EFI) and turbocharging and soon earned the reputation as the best development rider in the paddock. In 1995, he won his first national championship aboard a 1989 EFI, turbocharged Suzuki GSX-R1100. Three years later, in 1998, he took his second Streetbike Shootout title aboard a 1995 water-cooled GSX-R1100.

Then in 1999, Stotz began his successful collaboration with American Honda Motor Company. Officially sponsored by the Honda Rider's Club of America (HRCA), the two-time national champ set about developing Honda's CBR1100XX into a winning platform. The Honda engine was built like a tank and withstood the rigors of turbocharging with many of the original stock components still in place. Following a year of R&D, the payoff came in 2001 when he dominated the season to capture his third title. The following year Stotz repeated the feat, earning an unprecedented fourth AMA/Prostar Street Bike Shootout crown.

To date, Stotz is the only multi-time champion in the class. As the competition heated up in the ensuing years, numerous records fell. Stotz set many of them, the most notable being the quickest ET and the first streetbike record over 200 mph (7.256 seconds at 200.49 mph), which he achieved in the first round of eliminations at the 2004 season-ending finals in Gainesville, Florida. The ET record was stolen away just one round later by the eventual 2004 champion--Stotz's friend and former teammate, Barry Henson (7.254 seconds)--but Stotz's top speed record remains in the books.
During the decade between 1995 and 2005, AMA/Prostar revised the class rules several times in an effort to level the playing field for Stotz's competitors. For example, at the end of 2001 the two-step RPM launch controls that Stotz had perfected were outlawed. And at the end of 2003 season, intercoolers (another feature perfected by Stotz) were eliminated. More recently, in an effort to keep the bikes streetable, AMA/Prostar reworked the Street Bike Shootout Class rules to include a one-inch increase in ground clearance (three inches total) and a two-inch increase in ride height (now 22 inches). They renamed the series Pro Street for 2005.

Undaunted, Stotz countered with major changes to the induction and electronic control systems on the Honda, netting 65 more horsepower (550-plus overall) while running the same 30 pounds of boost. Stotz also pared away 30 pounds in overall weight, allowing the XX to accelerate more rapidly. The results to date have been record-setting. At Norwalk Ohio's Raceway Park in July 2005, Stotz ran the quickest ET of the year in AMA/Prostar Pro Street Class competition--7.36 seconds at 197 mph. One month later in Indianapolis, Stotz raised the bar another notch, setting the 1/8-mile speed record at 159 mph.

Stotz's savvy business acumen led him to collaborate with the NOPI (Number One Parts, Inc.) Drag Racing Association (NDRA) at the end of 2004 to launch the organization's first foray into 500-plus horsepower street-tire motorcycle drag racing. He brought along his main underwriter, the HRCA, as sponsor of the new Pro Street Tire Bike class. NOPI is known for its wildly popular sport-compact drag racing series that draws tens of thousands of fans, not only for the four-wheel drag-racing action, but also for the added attractions of car and bike shows and live bands. Thanks to Stotz, NOPI became the latest venue to showcase the excitement of high-tech, 500-plus horsepower street motorcycles to drag-racing fans everywhere. To back that up, Stotz set the quickest ET of any Pro Street Tire Bike competitor at a NOPI event--7.44 seconds at 195 mph--at Bristol Dragway in Tennessee in July 2005.

What will the future bring to Pro Street tire racing? The quest for reliable horsepower has dominated the class over the last few years. The challenge now is learning how to get all that power to the ground through a street tire. The teams that understand suspension dynamics and the art of applying power smoothly will be the next champions. Count on Stotz Racing to lead the way.

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